The Isle of Man!

The Coastal Path: The "Raad na Foillan" or "Way of the Gull"

Day 1: Douglas to Castletown

Go to: Day 2: Castletown to Port St Mary, Day 3: Port St Mary to Port Erin, Day 4: Port Erin to Dalby, Day 5: Dalby to Peel, Day 6: Peel to Kirk Michael, Day 7: Kirk Michael to Point of Ayre, Day 8: Point of Ayre to Ramsey, Day 9: Ramsey to Laxey Day 10: Laxey to Douglas.
Looking back at the ferry terminal - before we turn away and head round the corner to the harbour. In effect this short walk is finishing the walk before we have started because, officially the path begins around the corner.
Rounding the corner, we can once again see seaward and the outer harbour. This section is still fully tidal and quite busy. Depending on the tide status, the dock walls can be filled up with fishing vessels. As a sad reminder of those who give their lives in the hunt for our food supply, in 2011, the recovered rusting hulk of the 'Solway Harvester' still remained after the loss of 'all hands' in the Irish Sea - and many subsequent enquiries.
Douglas Harbour is of course the main port on the island - naturally, at its capital - and manages to combine import and exports, fishing and leisure boating. This shot is of the inner, semi-tidal harbour. is this one. The steep hill beyond is an indicator of where the walk 'proper' begins shortly.
Crossing the lift bridge over the divide between the inner and outer harbours, straight ahead is the starting point of the walk around the island...
Incidentally, at the upper end of the harbour is the station for the steam railway in Douglas. Our paths shall cross several times during the course of the walk and the railways and bus routes on the island are a major help for the 'one-way' walker. Even when we don't, the sound of a distant steam whistle will give us our bearings - and, potentially, a time check!

Although the remaining line bends to the left towards Port Erin, the former line to Peel, and once also Ramsey, continued straight ahead - sharing the same station. These lines closed in the 1960s. Reopening the line to Peel would be very beneficial in moving around the island without using a car!

Across the lift bridge, the flight of steps the other side of the mini-roundabout is the real beginning!

At the foot of the steps, just visible against the grey concrete to the left, is the first of the blue and white fingerposts, including a seagull logo, which point the way around the island.

Along the marine Drive, near a place called 'Fiddlers Green' on leaving Douglas, there are some interesting geological formations - but these are not a patch on what is to come!
Along the Marine Drive - the view ahead. By this point the route is closed to vehicles and is pedestrians only. After the initial climb out of Douglas, this part of the route is nearly all slowly downhill and very easy walking.
"All around the blooming heather..." a particularly fine July spectacle near Purt ny Coan.
Aproaching the end of the Marine Drive, you start to see the magnificence of the coast to the south around Santon Head.
Jan sniffs a flower as we get our first look at Port Soderick.
Looking back the way we have come along the Marine Drive. Douglas, our starting point, is just beyond the furthest headland.
The descent to Port Soderick. This interesting path was once spanned by a funicular railway which conveyed tourists down to the port.
Port Soderick. Obviously once a place of bustle and activity. In 2009 though everything was boarded up and disused. We found this very sad and, although it is obviously right that Douglas, as the island's capital, should be the most prominent. It does seem wrong that more and more is becoming centred on Douglas which is both to its detriment, through over-development, and to the detriment of nearly every other town on the Island.
Descending the 'secret' path and step to Port Soderick
The closed off cliff-base path at Port Soderick
What remains of the bottom end of the funicular railway that once descended to Port Soderick
Port Soderic bay
The boarded up buildings at Port Soderick in 2009. A wasted asset. Unfortunately the Isle of Man has many such places.

On the far left can be seen the cliffs where the next two photos were taken...

Through the cleft in the cliffs at Port Soderick. Follow the path all the way round the cliff and on to the beach before doubling back...
...through the cliff and back towards the port.
Port Soderick Glen - the coastal path ascends this glen for a detour around a private estate.
Out the top of the glen, we head inland under the steam railway at Port Soderick Station.
Heading uphill, this is a last look back at the railway for now.
In this mirror, on the main road, can be seen The Big House - and the photographer!
Crossing the steam railway - looking south - towards Balaquiggin...
...and north. Just missed including a train.
Reaching the top of the hill, and the end of the road section. The footpath sign can just be seen ahead on the right.
From the same point, looking the other way - westwards to the hills along the western edge of the island.
Starting down the path again we get a new view of the sea.
A little further on, St Michael's Island near Castletown comes into view.
Continuing to the end of the formal path you cross a high stile into a field on the way to Santon Head to rejoin the coast. The next marker is just visible at the top of the hill ahead.
The cliff-top path at Santon Head - more of a cliff-edge path actually - the next few miles are definitely not for those with nervousness at height.
In fact, anyone but the most sure-footed should go back to the main road and detour around to the next access point at Purt Veg, on foot, or Port Grenaugh, by road. However, if you can cope with it, the views are outstanding.
Looing south towards the airport, Castletown and the hills beyond.
Another view down to the rocks. There are plenty of opportunities!
One of the fast catamarans approaching Douglas from the south. Probably from Liverpool.
A srange rocky outcrop - reminiscent of a crouching toad. This part of the coast is known as Baltic Rock.
Down on the rocks at Baltic Rock appears to be the remains of a ship's (scotch?) boiler.
What vessel, or whatever, was this the remains of?
The twin flues of the boiler can clearly be seen as the walk continues.
The sea view from the bottom of Purt Veg.
The steps down to Purt Veg.
That boiler again! - from the other side of Purt Veg.
A final boiler close up.
Continuing southwards, there was some unexpected shipping activity offshore near Traie ny Sloat...
...which we later found out was part of the operation to extend Ronaldsway Airport. Inexplicably, the rock for the sea wall was being brought from Scandinavia.
As we reached the entrance to Port Grenaugh we found these unusual rock formations.
From a similar vantage point, St Michael's Island to the south gets very slightly nearer :-)
This is the view of the airport - from St Michael's Island. This is not part of the coastal path - but makes a nice trip out.
At the northern end of St Michael's Island, past the golf course, is Derby Fort.
One of Henry VIII's fortifications?
It even has a number of gun barrels in place!
Approaching Port Grenaugh the slight hill in the foreground is one of many promontory forts found along the coastal path.
The promontory fort Cronk ny Merriu. The sign in the next photo explains all...
The sign text reads "Promontory Fort with defensive ditch and ramparts. Defences probably iron age first few centuries AD. Foundations of Norse house (10th-11th century) within fort.".
The potentially magnificent, but completely abandoned, Port Grenaugh. The substantial wall, and other foundations, are evidence of what must once have been a thriving place.
Port Soldrick - another empty harbour. This is looking back at the bay from the southern headland and you can clearly see the diagonal path we had previously descended.
A little to the right of the previous photo can be seen an old smugglers cave which at one time had a shaft through the roof to the cliff top for the conveyance of contraband.
At Port Soldrick can also be found these unusual rock formations.
At Santon Gorge, you can either walk all around the top of the cliff, and take in a burial ground and a church site, or, as we did on this occasion, descend to the shingle beach... low tide, cross the stream...
...and the ascend to the cliff top once again by a rather tricky ascent! Above here is another promontory fort - Cass-ny-Hawin.
So near yet so far! Our route around the airport was blocked by new construction works and so... a fairly typical Isle of Man way, the footpath made an abrupt halt at a closure sign! So we found our way past some cows, across a field to the A12 (ie a single track lane) at Turkeyland Quarry, and thence to the pub in Ballasalla to round off an exhausting first day. We should have finished in Castletown - but we had to come back and finish that another time.
On the final steps of this day's walk we pass the door of the Maritme Museum. Bizarrely an historic manx vessel was 'walled up' in here many decades ago and lost for many years.
This resulted in a remarkable preservation. The rest of the museum houses a huge range of all of Mann's connection with the sea. All of this is fascinating to those of us who already have a deep understanding of boats and boating but we felt the exhibits could do with a lot more labelling and interpretation to benefit the lay person.
The rear of the museum once had its own dock (for the interred boat) and here we see the harbour entrance...
...and this is the view inland to the main harbour - with Castle Rushen in the background.
Go to: Day 2: Castletown to Port St Mary, Day 3: Port St Mary to Port Erin, Day 4: Port Erin to Dalby, Day 5: Dalby to Peel, Day 6: Peel to Kirk Michael, Day 7: Kirk Michael to Point of Ayre, Day 8: Point of Ayre to Ramsey, Day 9: Ramsey to Laxey Day 10: Laxey to Douglas.